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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Who’s Hot & Who’s Not in NASCAR: Midwestern Mayhem

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series headed to Joliet, Illinois this weekend, which houses a track calling itself Chicagoland Speedway, despite being about 45 minutes to an hour from downtown Chicago.

The start of the Camping World 400 was delayed for several hours due to rain, and high winds blew the covers off several cars, damaging several teams’ pit boxes, while thunder and lightning forced the fans to hide out for a time in a safer place.

Once the race finally began, it was a solid one, with 13 different drivers leading laps with a total of 23 lead changes as the full distance was able to be completed. There was also a repeat of last year’s finish, as Kyle Larson tried to hunt down the leader, only to be unable to pull off the pass late as Alex Bowman earned his first career Cup Series victory and Hendrick Motorsports’ second win of the season.

HOT

Bowman. In his fourth full-time Cup Series season, and knowing one of his primary sponsors is leaving after this year concludes, he’s now won in Hendrick equipment after spending the early years of his career as a back marker at BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing. Bowman’s put the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro in the top five on four occasions this season and six times in the top 10, all coming in the past eight races.

NOT

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer battled tire issues before exiting the race at lap 172 with crash damage, which resulted in a next-to-last finish of 37th. The driver of the No. 14 Ford Mustang has just eight top 10s halfway through the season, with four DNFs, three of them coming due to accidents, and an average finish of 15.4.

He currently holds the final slot in the playoff grid, 15 points ahead of …

HOT

Erik Jones. The No. 20 has clearly been the third or fourth car this season in the pecking order at Joe Gibbs Racing, but his seventh-place run on Sunday made him the top Toyota Camry, and was his eighth top-10 finish of the year. It was also his fifth top 10 in the past seven races. He won the July Daytona race last season and finished third in the Daytona 500 in February. Also, he’s been consistent, only crashing out of one race, the Coke 600 in late May, because of a flat tire.

NOT

Ty Dillon. The No. 13 Chevy of Germain Racing has had moments of promise this year, running sixth in the Daytona 500 and snagging top 15s at ISM Raceway, Martinsville and Bristol. But since then things have nosedived, with seven straight finishes outside the top 20, punctuated with Sunday’s 35th. He has an average start of 22nd, and is averaging a finish of the same placing in his third full-time season in Cup.

HOT

Ross Chastain finished 26th in the No. 15 of Premium Motorsports, one of his better Cup finishes this season. But that’s especially solid considering the equipment and the fatigue factor — it was his third race of the weekend. He was seventh for Niece Motorsports in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series (where he’s running for points and has run in the top 10 in every event, discounting the Iowa disqualification) and eighth for Kaulig Racing on Saturday.

NOT

First off, 11th isn’t a terrible finish, but Chase Elliott goes here because he was running up front with the leaders, and as high as second late when a disastrous pit stop lost Hendrick’s lead driver a whopping 18 positions. At a track where he’s won in the Xfinity Series and has two podium finishes in Cup, that’s not gonna cut it. However, it’s a good sign for the team that 11th was the worst result of its four-car stable.

Paint Scheme of the Week

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzOGP5PBiMi/

Daniel Hemric‘s No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Camaro was sponsored by Liberty National Insurance, and so was wrapped in their royal blue and lime green colors, which really work much better with this design as opposed to Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 last year or Trevor Bayne’s No. 6 at Roush Fenway. Plus the number font is growing on me after initially thinking it looked strange when it was announced Hemric would pilot the No. 8.

Socially Speaking

Several teams had their pit boxes damaged due to wind before the race started, including Richard Petty Motorsports and Rick Ware Racing.

Landon Cassill had fun with the damaged pit box.

No context for this GIF from Roush Fenway Racing of Seinfeld‘s George Costanza (Jason Alexander) eating popcorn and watching TV, but it’s different.

Predictions

It’s back to eastern Florida as the MENCS and the Xfinity Series return to high-speed Daytona International Speedway this weekend, and there will probably be lots of fireworks on the track.

The Circle K 250 Powered by Coca-Cola will be on Friday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET, with television coverage on the NBC Sports Network. Look for a driver near the back of the playoff picture to get into victory lane, possibly Chase Briscoe or John Hunter Nemechek.

The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will be Saturday, July 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET, with TV coverage coming on NBC. Look for another first-time winner to emerge from the chaos of a late crash to take the checkered flag and make the playoffs race a little more interesting.

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